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Work What You Love into Your Career

Janet Sun | February 11, 2013

Here’s some interesting career advice from Steve Levitt, author of Freakonomics: “Make sure that whatever you love doing is something other people don’t love to do.” Steve makes a practical point (what else could we expect from an economist?) But even if you’re passionate about something that plenty of people love, there are ways to turn it into a career or work it into an existing opportunity. You just have to get creative and/or daring. Here are a few thoughts to get you started:

Do Your Homework
Is there a market for your hobby? Is anyone else making a living doing whatever it is that you love? (Emphasis on making a living.) Talk to some of those folks, or do a little research to see if you can produce something commercially viable. Find out what it takes. If you love making jewelry, take an adult ed course on getting started on Etsy. If you love animals, how many dog walkers are in your area? Is this something you want to be fully devoted to, or do you want to supplement existing income? Identify what you want to be doing, the customers, and where you’ll find them. This can help you evaluate the next step!

Start a Business
If you’ve done your research and you know your homemade jam or graphic designs have a market, make a business plan. Even if you’re looking to make it a part-time thing, it helps to be organized about taking your hobby to the next level. You’ll need to consider finances, supplies, and the value of your labor. Don’t worry! You don’t have to be an MBA to plan this out. The Small Business Administration has great free guidance, and there are plenty of community classes and small business experts who can advise you, especially in a big city. Google or Yelp can help you find one, or try your university’s alumni network for a referral.

Find an Outlet or Add to an Existing Role
If you’re serious about integrating a passion professionally, you may want to look for an entry level job or internship that incorporates elements of that hobby. For example, if you love entertaining, why not look into trade show planning or event marketing. Similarly, you could volunteer your skills if they line up with something your company needs, even if it’s outside your typical role. Love sports? Start a company softball team. Want to paint? We have a mural in our office that was painted by an associate! Who knows — if you ask, maybe what you love to do could become a full-fledged paid responsibility.

Thought About Teaching?
If you are passionate about something and want to incorporate it into your livelihood, you might consider teaching it if you have the skill. Community education programs and summer camps often need skilled hobbyists who have a knack for instruction. Or, start small by instructing friends and trying to build a referral base for your own classes. Finally, try making some YouTube videos or a blog. You might not make money to start, but if your enthusiasm and skill line up with the market, it just might follow!

Category: Career News, Careers, Jobs

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